The Welsh Secretary has added his voice to the UK Government's attack on the Scottish Government's plans for independence. In a speech in Durham this evening, David Jones argued that open borders and a shared currency are only guaranteed for Scotland through a 'no' vote in next year's referendum.
Alex Salmond believes an independent Scotland could retain the pound in a currency union with the continuing UK. But could it? If Scotland decided to leave the UK it would also be leaving the UK’s currency. The pound would of course continue to be the currency of the UK, and the laws and institutions that currently oversee our stable, resilient and successful currency -like the Bank of England- would continue in place. But a separate Scotland would sit outside those arrangements, and would need to put in place new currency arrangements of its own.
– Welsh Secretary David Jones MP
Meanwhile, First Minister Carwyn Jones, who last week claimed that Wales could seek to veto a currency union with an independent Scotland, has been speaking in Dublin. He chose the capital of the last country to leave the UK to explain how England should fit into a devolved United Kingdom.
He told the Institute of International and European Affairs that he opposed an English Parliament "unbalancing" the UK. The First Minister instead suggested special recognition of English concerns in Westminster, plus "significant transfers of power" from Whitehall to large city-regions of England.
The UK is changing and the referendum in Scotland has thrown new light on the fact things cannot carry on as they are. A debate about what the constitution should look like is needed. I believe the creation of a constitutional convention, giving a UK-wide perspective on the governance of each part of the UK and their relationship to one another, is the way forward. The current system, with different processes across the UK is not fair or sustainable.
What is clear is the need for mutual respect for devolved legislatures. There must be consistency in the way powers for the devolved bodies are conferred and defined in law. Powers should only remain at the centre if it is strictly necessary for them to do so. Each nation needs to know exactly where it stands if we are to work together as a family of nations within a strong United Kingdom.
The Welsh Government has responded to the Institute of Welsh Affairs Opinion poll that shows
overwhelming support for the Assembly at least having its present powers but only 40% in favour of devolving income tax, with 43% against.
The opposition parties in Cardiff Bay have called on the First Minister to commit himself to calling a referendum on the issue by 2017 -and to supporting a cross-party campaign for a 'yes' vote.
This poll clearly shows that devolution is the settled will of the people of Wales, and that they support the First Minister’s vision of a strong Wales within a strong United Kingdom.
As far as any referendum on income tax is concerned, that is a matter for the future. The First Minister has made clear that the funding settlement for Wales needs to be reformed to make it fairer, before income tax powers are devolved. For now, the priority is to get the necessary legislation on the statue book so that the people of Wales can have the final say.
The opposition parties in the Assembly, who all support the devolution of income tax powers to the Welsh Government, are claiming that the latest poll findings show that a the First Minister needs to be less cautious about a referendum.
This poll shows that a referendum on income tax is there to be won but politicians need to have the courage to make the case. I fear that Carwyn Jones doesn’t want the responsibility and accountability that income tax would bring and is happy to blame all his policy failings on a lack of money from the Treasury.
Carwyn Jones needs to find the courage of his convictions and start actively making the case for the devolution of income tax to show cross-party support if a referendum is to be won. If he won’t support a yes vote in a referendum, then Carwyn Jones is the boy who cried wolf.
– Andrew RT Davies AM, Leader of the Opposition
This poll overwhelmingly shows that the people of Wales are in favour of the devolution of power from Westminster to Cardiff.
There is currently no clear majority with regards to tax varying powers. This highlights how essential it will be for all parties to work together on this issue much like they did in the 2011 referendum. Tax varying powers would mean that for the very first time, the amount of money a Welsh government spends could be directly linked to success in promoting economic development. Nearly all other national parliaments have this power. Wales should be no different.
– Welsh Liberal Democrat Constitutional Spokesperson Eluned Parrott AM
This poll clearly shows that the people of Wales support a range of job creation levers for Wales especially borrowing powers. The UK Government has made it clear that significant borrowing capacity will only come via an income tax sharing arrangement between the UK and Welsh Government. If we are to have the range of powers required to make a real economic difference it is essential that the full silk package is brought into effect, the proposals must not be cherry picked.
An opinion poll for the Institute of Welsh Affairs suggests that the Welsh Government would face a close fight in a referendum on it setting income tax. The UK government has agreed to devolving a limited income tax power, subject to a vote of the Welsh people. The poll shows that opinion is split.
In favour 40%
Don't know 18%
Market research company RMG polled 500 people. The percentages have been rounded and the figures are not weighted. Nevertheless the Institute of Welsh Affairs says they show that the First Minister is right to be cautious about calling a referendum once Westminster has passed the legislation.
This is the first poll carried out since the David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced that Wales would get powers to tax and borrow. It will confirm Carwyn Jones’ instincts that borrowing powers should be embraced but tax varying powers should be treated cautiously. The fact that 40% are infavour of giving AMs the power to vary income tax, and 18% undecided, suggests that a referendum may be winnable. But the sceptics start off with a 3% lead, and enthusiasts for devolving tax powers would be wise to proceed cautiously.
– IWA Director Lee Waters
The poll found 74% were aware of the recent announcements on devolving tax and borrowing powers and 59% thought the economy will benefit from Welsh Government borrowing to pay for major projects, such as upgrading the M4. There was significant support for the National Assembly getting more powers.
More powers 40%
Present powers 37%
Fewer powers 5%
No devolved government 12%
Welsh independence from UK 7%
This poll reinforces the consistent picture from evidence over recent years that devolution is now the settled will of the Welsh people.But while the fact of devolution now has stable majority support, the extent of it does not. And whether partial autonomy for Wales should include tax powers is something about which the people of Wales, as well as the political class, remain divided about.
– Prof Roger Scully, Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University